Winter Weather Safety Tips from the Red Cross

extreme cold and winter weather preparedness

Posted at 12:05 p.m.

As winter temperatures have finally arrived in Fairfax County, many of us now turn our attention to the perils that Old Man Winter can bring, such as extremely cold temperatures, snow, ice and freezing rain and even the loss of electricity.

Before we start sharing in-depth and specific information about the possible major winter storm this weekend, the American Red Cross recently published a list of winter safety tips to help you safely weather the cold.

In Your House

  • If there’s a power outage, go to a designated public shelter to stay warm. Fairfax County has official warming centers available during regular business hours.
  • Keep your thermostat at the same setting day and night.
  • Bring pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Run water, even at a trickle, to help stop pipes from freezing. Keep garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage
  • Before taking on tasks such as shoveling snow, consider your physical condition.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.


  • Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.
  • Dressing in several layers of lightweight clothing keeps someone warmer than a single heavy coat.
  • Mittens provide more warmth to the hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers the ears.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain one’s footing in ice and snow.

Remember, when temperatures drop and winter storms roll in, check on your elderly neighbors and help those who may need special assistance, including people with disabilities and children. And if you see someone at night who is unsheltered and you think could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county’s non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

Thanks to the American Red Cross for allowing us to repost this information.

Learn more about winter storm preparedness at and

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About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.

One response to “Winter Weather Safety Tips from the Red Cross”

  1. Mark Geiger says :

    Excellent website. Thanks for providing emergency information for the unsheltered.